By Annette O'Connor, Jan Sargeant and Sarah Totton
Humans and animals share many diseases. And as dramatically shown by the tigers that tested positive in the Bronx Zoo, the coronavirus is one of them. As three veterinary epidemiologists who study infectious disease, we have been asked a lot questions about if and how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 affects pets.
Can My Pet Get the Coronavirus?<p>When talking about a virus, the words "get" or "catch" are vague. A more precise question is: Can my cat or dog become infected with SARS-CoV-2?</p><p>The answer is yes. There is evidence from real-world cases as well as laboratory experiments that both cats and dogs can become infected with coronavirus.</p><p>In Hong Kong, health officials have tested 17 dogs and eight cats living with COVID-19 patients <a href="https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/26/P2020032600756.htm" target="_blank">for the coronavirus</a>. They found evidence of the virus in two dogs: <a href="https://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Reviewreport/Review/viewsummary?" target="_blank">a Pomeranian</a> and a <a href="https://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Reviewreport/Review/viewsummary?fupser=&dothis=&reportid=33684" target="_blank">German shepherd</a>, though neither became sick.</p><p>None of the eight cats were infected or had been sick. However, there is a <a href="https://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Reviewreport/Review/viewsummary?fupser=&dothis=&reportid=33832" target="_blank">separate report</a> of an infected cat from Hong Kong.</p>
Can My Pet Spread the Virus to Another Animal?<p>If cats or dogs can spread the coronavirus, health agencies and the public would need to incorporate these animals into their planning to contain and slow the pandemic. It is very important to know how easily the coronavirus replicates in pets and whether they can transfer it to other animals. A group of researchers in China set out to answer these questions.</p><p>To do this, they inoculated – that is, directly exposed – a number of cats and dogs with the coronavirus by deliberately placing large doses of live SARS-CoV-2 into their noses. The scientists then put some of these inoculated animals next to uninfected control animals to see if the exposed animals got sick, could spread the virus to the uninfected animals, or both.</p><p>The researchers found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb7015" target="_blank">kittens and adolescent cats can become infected</a> when given a large dose of the virus. All five of the kittens who were inoculated became sick and two died, but all of the adolescent cats were able to fight off the infection without becoming seriously ill.</p>
Can I Get the Coronavirus From My Cat?<p>While we can't say it would be impossible to catch the coronavirus from a cat or dog, the research suggests this is extremely unlikely. There are currently no reported cases of people catching the coronavirus from animals.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses" target="_blank">World Health Organization says that</a> "based on current evidence, human to human transmission remains the main driver" of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that "further evidence is needed to understand if animals and pets can spread the disease."</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#COVID-19-and-Animals" target="_blank">there is no evidence pets can spread COVID-19 to people</a>.</p><p>While your cat can get infected, according to the science, it is extremely unlikely they could pass it to you. In fact, if your cat is infected, the chances are your cat caught the coronavirus from you.</p>
Should I Keep My Cat Inside or Change My Dog’s Behavior?<p>Although the chances of your pet catching the coronavirus from another animal are low, if you take your dog or cat outside, have your pets follow the same rules as everyone else – keep them away from other people and animals.</p><p>If a dog approaches you, there is no need to be scared of <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/03/18/coronavirus-dogs-pets/" target="_blank">getting sick from virus on the dog's fur</a>. But avoid approaching dogs on leashes – not because of the dog, but because there is usually a human on the other end.</p><p>If you become ill with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html" target="_blank">isolate yourself from your pets</a> and have someone else care for them. If that isn't possible, continue to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.</p><p>Also remember: If your pet needs medical care, make sure you inform your veterinarian if you or a household member is ill with COVID-19. That information will allow your veterinarian to take adequate precautions.</p><p>The evidence around pets and the coronavirus is changing rapidly and our team is keeping an updated review about how <a href="http://www.syreaf.org/" target="_blank">cats, dogs, ferrets, other less common pets and livestock</a> are affected by the new coronavirus. But where the science stands today, there is little to worry about with regards to your cat or dog. In rare cases, they might become infected with the virus, but the chances of them getting sick from the infection or passing it on to you or another animal are extremely low.</p>
Coconut Oil May Help Your Dog's Skin Issues<p>Using coconut oil to treat skin conditions is a common practice with well-known benefits. The positive effects are likely due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.</p><p>One study found that coconut oil effectively hydrates the skin of people with xerosis, a condition characterized by dry and itchy skin.</p><p>This study was conducted on humans — not dogs. However, many dog owners and veterinarians claim that coconut oil can help treat dry skin and eczema in dogs when applied topically.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Coconut oil may help treat skin conditions in humans, and some people claim that it's also helpful for the skin of dogs.</p>
It Can Improve the Appearance of Your Dog's Fur<p>Coconut oil may improve the appearance of your dog's fur.</p><p>When applied to the skin, it can make hair shinier and less prone to damage.</p><p>This is because lauric acid, the main fatty acid in coconut oil, has a unique chemical makeup that allows it to easily penetrate hair shafts.</p><p>Other types of fat don't have this same ability, so using coconut oil may help keep your dog's coat healthy and beautiful.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown to keep hair healthier than other fatty acids. It can be used to improve the health and appearance of your dog's fur.</p>
It May Help Fight Off Pests<p>The antimicrobial effects of coconut oil may prevent dogs from being infected by ectoparasites, such as ticks, fleas, and mange mites.</p><p>It has also been shown to help eliminate these pests in dogs that have already been infected.</p><p>These effects were confirmed by two studies in which dogs were treated with a shampoo made with coconut oil.</p><p>In one of these studies, coconut oil also appeared to facilitate wound healing in dogs with ectoparasite bites. This is likely associated with coconut oil's ability to inhibit bacterial growth.<a href="https://nextgendog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/34-ECTOPARASITICIDAL-EFFECT-OF-VIRGIN-COCONUT-Cocos-nucifera-OIL-SHAMPOO-IN-DOGS.pdf" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Moreover, coconut oil has also been shown to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi in lab studies.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Coconut oil may be beneficial for preventing pest infections and treating bites.</p>
Risks Associated With Using Coconut Oil on Dogs<p>Although adverse effects are rare, there are a few things to consider before using coconut oil on your dog.</p><p>There's always the risk for an allergic reaction when introducing something new to your dog's diet or grooming regimen. If a reaction occurs, stop using it.</p><p>Also, some studies have shown that coconut oil can cause high cholesterol in dogs. In extreme cases, this can cause fatty plaques to develop in the arteries.</p><p>Furthermore, due to its high calorie content, using coconut oil in excess may lead to weight gain.</p><p>Lastly, one study concluded that a diet high in <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saturated-fat-good-or-bad" target="_blank">saturated fat</a> reduces dogs' scent-detecting abilities. More research is needed to better understand this finding, but you may want to use caution with coconut oil if you have a working dog.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Coconut oil may cause high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, and weight gain in some dogs. If your dog is prone to any of these conditions, talk with a veterinarian before use.</p>
How to Use Coconut Oil on Dogs<p>Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs to eat in small amounts or have applied to their skin or fur.</p><p>When it comes to selecting a brand, virgin coconut oil is best, as most of coconut oil's benefits have been observed with this type.</p><p>According to some sources, coconut oil can generally be given to dogs one to two times a day with meals.</p><p>The amount you give your dog will depend on its size. If your dog is overweight or has obesity, don't give it coconut oil more than once a day.</p><p>Veterinarians stress the importance of starting slowly with coconut oil. This will allow you to monitor how your dog reacts to it.</p><p>Start by giving 1/4 teaspoon daily to small dogs or 1 tablespoon daily to big dogs and gradually increase the amount. If your dog tolerates it well after 2 weeks, increase the dose to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight.</p><p>Due to a lack of research, these recommendations are not established.</p><p>Don't feed your dog coconut oil alone. Instead, mix it in with your dog's regular food. This will keep its diet varied and nutrient dense.</p><p>All dogs being fed coconut oil should be monitored for weight gain, diarrhea, and other symptoms that may signify intolerance.</p><p>Keep in mind that studies haven't revealed any benefits of using coconut oil in dog feed. On the other hand, using it on your dog's skin may improve certain skin conditions.</p><p>If you're applying the coconut oil topically, rub a small amount onto your hands and then gently pat its coat, running your fingers through the fur and massaging a little into its skin.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Coconut oil can be fed to dogs or applied to their skin. Start slowly and increase the amount you give your dog gradually.</p>
Takeaway<p>Research on using coconut oil for pets is lacking. The benefits are mainly anecdotal, as well as based on findings in humans, rodents, and test-tube studies.</p><p>Despite the lack of research, giving it to your dog in small doses is relatively safe.</p><p>Ultimately, it's a personal choice. Using coconut oil on your dog has a few potential benefits and might be worth trying.</p><p>The risks are unlikely but worth keeping in mind. It's important to monitor your dog's health after adding anything to its regimen.</p><p>Talk to a veterinarian if you have further questions or concerns about giving your dog coconut oil.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
I eat mostly a plant-based diet, I say no to plastic straws and I'm trying to cut back on driving. But for my rescue pup Lela, I'll spoil her with a bit of grass-fed lamb, one of the most carbon-intensive meats out there.
By Julie Wilson
We know that humans increasingly test positive for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller. For example, in tests conducted by a University of California San Francisco lab, 93 percent of the participants tested positive for glyphosate residues.
In the European Union, when 48 members of Parliament volunteered for glyphosate testing, every one of them tested positive.
By Danny Prater
Are dog bone treats dangerous? A statement issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rippled across the internet, sparking discussions about the potential dangers of giving dogs processed bones to chew on and ingest as treats. According to reports, dozens of dogs are known to have fallen ill or been injured by bone treats, and at least 15 have died, but the actual number of unreported cases is likely much higher.
By Perry Wheeler
Following global pressure on pet food companies, industry giants Mars and Nestlé have announced that they will take steps to ensure their pet food supply chains are free of human rights abuses and illegally caught seafood. Their commitments to act on transshipping at sea increase the need for global seafood giant Thai Union, a supplier for both companies, to eliminate any outstanding risks of human rights abuses and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in its own supply chains.
Nestlé has committed to a full ban on transshipment at sea in its supply chains, while Mars has committed to suspend the use of transshipped products in its supply chains if its seafood suppliers cannot adequately address the human rights and illegal fishing issues associated with the practice in the coming weeks.
"Pet owners and activists have demanded that companies eliminate human rights abuses from their pet food supply chains. This move toward stopping out of control transshipment at sea means we're finally seeing results," said Greenpeace USA oceans campaigner Graham Forbes.
"These are the two largest pet food companies in the world and their commitments to address transshipping at sea will put significant pressure on suppliers like Thai Union to show the leadership needed to clean up their own seafood supply chains. We'll be closely monitoring Mars' and Nestlé's progress to ensure these policies lead to real changes on the water," added Forbes.
Greenpeace launched a campaign in 2016, Cats vs. Bad Tuna, to demand that Mars ensure its supply chains were free of any potential human rights abuses. A Greenpeace Southeast Asia report, Turn the Tide, demonstrated the unacceptably high risk of tainted seafood entering numerous supply chains throughout 2016, including Nestlé and Thai Union's. Nestlé immediately committed to address the concerns when they were raised in the report. Mars committed to tackle unchecked transshipment at sea in its pet food supply chains this month.
"Over the past several years, Nestlé and Greenpeace have worked together to strengthen Nestlé's policies governing the procurement and responsible sourcing of seafood," said Nestlé Purina PetCare head of sustainability Jack Scott. "In light of Greenpeace's research findings, Nestlé has committed to a ban on all transshipments at sea."
Transshipment is a process through which companies move fish from one vessel to another, enabling them to remain at sea for extended periods of time to plunder the oceans, dodge regulations and keep fishers as a captive workforce. In addition to its connections to human rights abuse, transshipment at sea provides an opportunity for illegal fishing vessels to unload their illegally caught loads into supply chains, away from port authorities. In 2015, an estimated 40 percent of these transfers happened on the high seas, outside of the jurisdiction of national authorities. Transshipment at sea has also been linked to other organized crime, including drug, weapon and wildlife trafficking.
Mars' and Nestlé's commitments send a strong message to Thai Union to address transshipment in its supply chains. Greenpeace is currently pressuring Thai Union to make sweeping changes for workers and our oceans across its seafood supply chains. Greenpeace has campaigned on Thai Union since 2015 and is asking the company to lead the seafood industry by ending transshipment at sea, addressing overfishing and destructive fishing and increasing traceability from sea to plate.
"Mars recognizes the risks of transshipment at sea. We want to see human rights respected and the environment protected in our seafood supply chains" said Isabelle Aelvoet, global sustainability director at Mars Petcare.
"The current problems associated with transshipment are serious and demand urgent attention. We are committed to working with our suppliers to remedy these problems, but if we cannot resolve these issues to our satisfaction quickly, we will seek to end the use of transshipped products in our supply chains until these serious problems are fixed."
Thursday's news follows a new report from Global Fishing Watch highlighting the problems with transshipment at sea. The report found that from 2012-2016, refrigerated cargo vessels participated in more than 5,000 likely transshipments. Concerns were raised about Mars and Nestlé supply chains in a 2015 New York Times investigation into human rights abuses at sea.